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Idaho History at Home

Through resources that connect us deeply to our state, its story, and each other, the Idaho State Historical Society is committed to helping Idahoans across the state. Please enjoy the wide range of free resources for research, education, and fun!

 

COVID-19 Story Collecting Initiative

Idaho and the world are grappling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of you might be keeping your feelings about this crisis in your personal journal or you are posting to social media channels for the world to see, but we ask that you share your story with us.

Although record keeping has changed drastically over the last 100 years, the everyday stories of Idahoans remain as relevant to our collecting initiatives today as they did in 1907 when the Idaho Legislature created our agency.

Please help us deliver on our mission and help us capture the stories of how Idahoans like you are reacting, responding, and defining community in new ways during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Idaho State Historical Society will add the stories and reflections submitted to our agency’s records, housed at the Idaho State Archives. Future generations will be able to use these submissions to understand what this moment in Idaho history was really like.

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DIGITAL COLLECTIONS

Access hundreds of digital resources from the Idaho State Historical Society.

2020 marked the start of the Idaho Women 100 Celebration and the 100th anniversary of the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, enshrining most women in America with the right to vote. Idaho Women in Leadership and the Idaho State Historical Society commemorated and celebrated this momentous event, in part, by creating an accessible collection of suffrage-related digital assets. Learn More

Chronicling American: Idaho’s Digitized Newspaper. Thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and Library of Congress, the Idaho State Archives has digitized keyword searchable Idaho newspapers from 1863-1925. Learn More

Keyword search thousands of digitized photographs from the collections of the Idaho State Archives. Learn More

This curated selection of clothing and accessories reveals how culture, individual values, technology, and function combine to create fashions that help to visually define our lives. Learn More

Explore a variety of topics on Idaho’s history ranging from mining, merchants, Idaho Territory and more. Learn More

The National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) recognizes properties that are important in our past and considered worthy of preservation. Idaho has over 5,000 properties listed. Learn More

Behind Gray Walls Podcast

From inside the walls of the Old Idaho Penitentiary comes a podcast about Idaho history, true crime, and the stories of the inmates who lived here, written and produced by two employees of the Idaho State Historical Society, Anthony and Skye. Named after a biography written by inmate Patrick Charles Murphy, Behind Gray Walls is a podcast that will bring humanity to the stories you may have heard while visiting the Old Idaho Penitentiary, and some that you most certainly have not. Listen below or anywhere you get your podcasts!

Activities

Enjoy hands on activities the whole family can do!

Activities from the Idaho State Museum

Lonesome Larry, the only sockeye salmon to complete the journey back to Redfish Lake in 1992. Create an obstacle course and find out who in your family completes the journey.

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Learn about the history of jazz musicians in Idaho. Create your own Jazz-inspired artwork while listening to a curated playlist of jazz music.

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Historians learn a lot about people and cultures from the clothes that they wear. Create a floral inspired craft with materials found at home!

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Gold is precious, rare and valuable. During the gold rush boom towns popped up all over the Northwest. It brought people from all over the world to the American west. Try your hand at panning for gold with this activity.

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Step away from the screen and enjoy the great outdoors by completing a scavenger hunt as a family in your backyard, neighborhood, or community.

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Become and Archaeologist at Home

An archaeologist is a scientist who uses artifacts to tell a story about the past. They go on digs to find new information and artifacts which helps them learn more about what happened in history. 

Become an archaeologist at home by reconstructing an ancient pot

Have you wondered what happens on an archaeological dig? Here’s a chance to build your very own archaeological site.

Coloring Pages

In 1948, just after WWII, beavers became a bit of a problem for those living in McCall, Idaho. Elmo W. Heter and the Idaho Fish and Game Department had to find a way to move and relocate beavers. Heter built boxes that were engineered to open when they land. Planes and surplus parachutes from the war were acquired and a beaver they called Geronimo became the first to sky dive for science! Parachuting Beavers Video

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Only one sockeye salmon survived the 900-mile trip up the Columbia and Snake Rivers to the ocean and back in 1992. They call him Lonesome Larry. Idaho’s Redfish Lake historically had a sockeye salmon population that numbered in the thousands, giving the lake its name due to sockeye salmon turn bright red during spawning season. The epic journey that salmon had to make took a toll on the species over time with fish ladders and predators creating obstacles along the way. Lonesome Larry was captured by biologists and used to help repopulate the salmon in the area.

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Throughout history, Idaho’s land and people have shaped each other. The state is unique for its varied landscapes and ecosystems including, deserts, prairies, mountains, forests, and wetlands. For thousands of years, humans living in Idaho have found ways to utilize the land and have changed their way of life based on where they live.

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Here’s a story and coloring page on Wrinkles, a bloodhound behind bars.

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A prized bullfrog living in a pond in a prison yard. Here’s Champ’s story and coloring page.

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From prison bands to holiday programs, the Idaho State Penitentiary often filled with music. Here’s a crooner for you to color!

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Take Penitentiary Pete, your prison tour guide along, for your virtual visit to the Old Idaho Penitentiary.

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Opened in 1910, this stained glass dome was in the center of the Owyhee hotel’s lobby. The Boise newspaper proclaimed that the Owyhee was the “handsomest hotel in the West.” When the Owyhee underwent renovations in the 1970s, its owners donated the dome to the Idaho State Historical Society. Today, it can be seen in the Idaho State Museum.

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Videos

Check out a variety of videos from Idaho State Historical Society sites, including 1-Minute History Lessons, Jailhouse Tours, and Virtual Programming from the Idaho State Museum!

Old Idaho Penitentiary Video Collection

Idaho State Museum Video Collection

Idaho State Historical Society Video Collection

Virtual & In-Person Events

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